Monday, September 05, 2011

Today's kewlness: single molecule electric motor.

Yep. Electric motor made of one (1) molecule, driven and imaged by scanning tunneling microscope. The kewlness is extreme.

The butyl methyl sulphide molecule was placed on a clean copper surface, where its single sulphur atom acted as a pivot.

The tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope - a tiny pyramid with a point just an atom or two across - was used to funnel electrical charge into the motor, as well as to take images of the molecule as it spun.

It spins in both directions, at a rate as high as 120 revolutions per second.

But averaged over time, there is a net rotation in one direction.

By modifying the molecule slightly, it could be used to generate microwave radiation or to couple into what are known as nano-electromechanical systems, Dr Sykes said.

120 revs per second is 7200 rpm for gearheads. That's a respectable bit of spin. Motor for a mechanical creation the size of a bacteria? Hell yeah! Robots the size of bacteria. Sprinkle them on a junk heap and they'll print me a Ferrari.

The Phantom


WiFi Lunchbox Guy said...

The link is broken.

On a somewhat bigger scale, there are a few robots based on biological flagella.

One outfit wants to use swarms of these things to deliver drugs directly to cancer cells.

The Phantom said...

Link fixed!

Cool links WiFi. :)